Friday, April 12, 2013

Mark 12: 30- 31 commentary: how your love for God shows itself

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

You must first love God with everything you have. That is the foundation upon which everything else is predicated. “This is the first commandment” regardless of how many modern Bible versions delete those words.

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

The question for the Christian is how is the love for God manifested? What is evidence that a Christian loves God? Some would tell you that it means following the orders of the church organization’s ruler’s in Rome. Some would say that it means doing what your Pastor tells you to do. Some would say that it means complying with their own personal convictions or doing what they tell you to do and supporting their convictions, beliefs, and calling with your money, time, and service.

There are those who say that dying for the cause of Christ proves your love. However, if you died as a martyr simply because you believed that earned you a “ticket to heaven” does that mean that you love God? Or yourself?

What are the physical manifestations, the physical evidence that a person loves the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength? The apostle John said it clearly.

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

This idea ties the first and greatest commandment to the second. Proof of the love for God is revealed in how you love your neighbor. There’s no way around it. If you love God as you say you do, then love your neighbor. In the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, one’s neighbor is said to be whomever he encounters. Anyone is your neighbor.

But, you say, my brother or sister in Christ, and my neighbor are not necessarily the same. Paul and James reinforce this command, however.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

For the Christian, caring for people other than yourself, whether in the body of Christ or without, is the evidence that you love God. It is not your profession of faith. It is your active love for others. Christians, who for purposes of political ideology, profess a disdain for charitable, as in voluntary, giving because “those people” whomever “those people” are don’t deserve it, or who will not help someone or care for someone or do good for someone because they aren’t in agreement with them should not profess they love God. They don’t.

1Thessalonians 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

This is the second commandment. You can’t please God by denying Him and then going off to do good works, to save children in Africa, etc. etc. You must first love God, then your neighbor. I spent fourteen years as a Christian before I understood that I did not love God. It took my daughter’s suicide note to make me realize that she, in her agony, could make a profession that I, who remained alive, could not.

Then, later, I read John Wesley’s sermon, “The Almost Christian”. Now, I am certain that I was saved by Christ back on March 19, 1986 but, like most Christians, I was immediately taken prisoner of war by Satan in full collusion with my flesh. I was useless. My daughter had received Christ as her Saviour on October 7, 1990 but I had spiritually neglected her and starved her. As God’s representative in her life I had failed to ever point toward God. To her, as she cried out, God had abandoned her, in spite of her love for Him. That was because I had spiritually abandoned her. It is a great evil that “Christian” parents commit. It was her death that woke me up. What a horrible price to pay, what a horrible wakeup call. Don’t need God to break you in order to understand.

First, God, then others. It’s a circle. Loving others is evidence you love God. Hatred, paranoia, fear, bigotry, and constant anger are not evidence you love God. Oh, yeah, and your “self” is not mentioned. The key to healthy children and healthy adults is not self-esteem. It is other-esteem. The key to proving your love for Christ is found in your attitude and behavior toward other people.

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